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Zoom H4n Handy Recorder : Review

H4n

The X/Y mics configuration

The particular mics configuration allows a true stereo recording. The user can rotate the two condenser capsules, alternating a 90° angle with a 120° angle, but always maintaining the same mics distance from the sound source, so to produce an equal frequency response. One of the most important features of this device is the versatility, and the possibility to rotate the two mics is part of this versatility.

Mics can be rotated according to the environmental context

WAV and MP3 on the SD card

If the user needs the best audio quality, he can use the WAV format at 24bit/96kHz. If the best quality is not necessary a large variety of MP3 formats is available. In the box, Zoom has included a 1GB SD card that can store really a great files quantity, but the user can use a card up to 32GB, for an incredible storage quantity.

For the guitarist (and not only)

Let's begin from the 4 preamp sections, each with some available parameters for the adjusting of the sound. We must be honest. This Zoom device is equipped with some effects and amps simulations that cannot be a definitive solution for the guitar, obviously, but they work.

    Guitar (electric and acoustic)

    Clean sound

  • FD CLEAN (Fender '65 Twin Reverb)
  • VX CLEAN (Vox AC30)
  • HW CLEAN (Hiwatt Custom 100)
  • Crunch

  • UK BLUES (Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker)
  • BGcrunch (Mesa/Boogie Mark)
  • MS #1959 (Marshall 1959)
  • High Gain

  • PV DRIVE (Peavey 5150)
  • RECT VNT (Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, red channel, Vintage mode)
  • DZ DRIVE (Diezel Herbert, channel 3)
  • Combinations between an amp and a stomp box

  • TS+FDcmb (Fender combo + Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer)
  • SD+MSstk (Marshall stack + Boss SD-1)
  • FZ+MSstk (Marshall stack + FuzzFace)
  • Parameters

    Cabinet, Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Level and ZNR (Zoom Noise Reduction).

  • ACO SIM
  • Parameters

    Top, Body, Bass, Middle, Treble, Level, ZNR.

    Bass

  • SVT (Ampeg)
  • BASSMAN (Fender Bassman 100)
  • HARTKE (Hartke HA3500)
  • SUP-Bass (Marshall Super Bass)
  • SANSAMP (Sansamp Bass Driver DI)
  • TUBE PRE
  • Parameters

    Cabinet, Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Balance, Level, ZNR.

    Microphone

  • VO MPRE (For vocals)
  • AG MPRE (For acoustic guitar)
  • FlatMPRE (Neutral)
  • Parameters

    COMP, DE-ESSER, LOW CUT, Bass, Middle, Treble, Level, ZNR.

    Effects List

    Now let's see a fast list of the available effects. For each of them the H4n provides some dedicated parameters.

  • RackComp
  • LIMITER
  • AUTO WAH
  • PHASER
  • TREMOLO
  • RING MOD
  • SLOW ATK
  • CHORUS
  • ENSEMBLE
  • FLANGER
  • STEP
  • VIBE (Vibrato)
  • CRY
  • PITCH
  • Delay

  • DELAY (5.000 ms)
  • ECHO
  • ANALOG
  • RvsDelay (Reverse 2.500 ms)
  • Reverb

  • AIR
  • HALL
  • ROOM
  • SPRING
  • ARENA
  • T ROOM
  • M SPRING

Patches

In addition to the simulations and to the effects the H4n provides 50 ready to use effects that are, substantially, a combination between a preamp module and an effect. The manual includes the complete list of the available patches.

The Stamina mode

TIt works with the included AC Adaptor, the Zoom AD-14, or with two AA batteries. If the user needs to extend the batteries life, he can enable the Stamina mode, which allows a continuous operation of approximately 11 hours. Obviously, the batteries life depends on many different factors, so the extended time can be only approximative.

Inputs

Inputs

It provides various advanced inputs, like the XLR (balanced), with phantom voltage source capability, or the Hi-Z input for an electric guitar, another instrument or a mixer. In addition, also an auxiliary mic.

The built-in mixer

The built-in mixer provides many different functions to handle the four indipendent tracks. The display, rather small, doesn't allow a comfortable use of the mixer, but we cannot ask more to a so compact product.

Mixer - Examples

All the necessary for a perfect result

The new digital preamplifier is capable of many automatic or manual functions. The user can adjust the recording level according to the volume of the sound source. This function can be also automatic, but in this case a slight distortion is audible, since some seconds to determine the more convenient level are necessary. Another interesting and useful function is the filter for the low frequency noise, that can be automatic or manually adjusted. It's not all. There are various compressors and limiters, so to optimize the dynamic range. If the user makes a good job, he can get really an excellent result, with no distortion or unwanted effects.

An audio interface and an USB mic

It can be used simply like an audio interface or an USB mic. The audio latency, thanks to the ASIO drivers, can be up to 1ms. A result that can be obtained only thanks to an high quality hardware.

The included Cubase LE 4 licence

Another added value is the included licence for Cubase LE 4. Certainly, a basic software for the editing, but with all the necessary for the most important things.

Manual, instructions and firmware

The manual is really complete and exhaustive. 149 pages with all the instructions for the use and the complete effects list, with explanations and parameters. A section is dedicated to the firmware upgrade, really easy and fast.

vs H2n and Tascam DR-100mkII

FtrsH4nH2nDR
Trcks442
A/D24bit×12824bit×128n.d.
D/A24bit×12824bit×128n.d.
MediaSD/SDHCSD/SDHCSD/SDHC
Data (bit, kHz)WAV(16/24, 44.1/48/96). MP3(48-320, VBR, 44.1)WAV(16/24, 44.1/48/96). MP3(48-320, VBR, 44.1)WAV(16/24, 44.1/48). MP3(32-320, VBR, 44.1/48, ID3)
Dspl128×64px128×64pxn.d.
In1xXLR (balanced, Phantom Power), 1xHi-Z (guitar), 1xMic (mini stereo)Line, mic (mini stereo)2xXLR (balanced, Phantom Power, Mic/Line), digital, Line (3.5mm, 23kOhms)
OutLine, Headphone (mini stereo)Line, Headphone (mini stereo)Line, Headphone (3.5mm, stereo)

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